Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fantasy Baseball: The Undervalued & the Unappreciated

By now a lot of you have already had your fantasy baseball drafts but if you haven’t then I have some last minute crunch time additions for you to read over as you prepare. Over the course of the winter we have gone over the players that many don’t know about, many call them sleepers, but today we will go over some of the more recognizable names around the league. These names are recognizable in most households but in my opinion they are truly under-appreciated and undervalued as far as fantasy baseball goes. Well they were before today anyway. 

We begin with Justin Upton who has been playing in some of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in all of Major League Baseball over the past few seasons. While Turner Field in Atlanta is far from the spacious outfield in Petco Park it’s still tough to hit a home run there and Upton still has 26-plus home run seasons in four of his last five seasons. Him moving to Comerica Park in Detroit shouldn’t affect him too much in the power department and shouldn’t affect his 20 stolen base capability per season either. 

Like many positions the first base position is pretty top heavy but near the bottom of the upper tier is Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Quietly A-Gon consistently puts up 20 home run and 85 RBI seasons every single year and not many people talk about it. Must be all those West Coast games. 

We’ve said it many times before and we’ll say it again, even the worst teams in the league that lose 100+ games per season will get you 30-50 saves in a year. While the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox are far from the worst teams in the league and while neither will lose 100 games in my opinion they will both struggle to compete in their divisions. That doesn’t mean Zach Britton won’t strike out another 10 batters per nine innings and save 35 games again and that doesn’t mean David Robertson wont strike out closer to 12 batters per nine innings and save you 40 games in 2016. 

Matt Wieters enters 2016 in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery. I know the surgery doesn’t affect position players the same way it affects pitchers but it also affects everyone differently. I truly believe that many of his struggles in 2015 were due to the elbow ligament replacement surgery and in his second year removed I think we see more of the 22-ish home run power we saw from 2011-2013 and less of the product we saw in 2015 going forward. 

Most people only spoke about the first half Yordano Ventura that struggled with his command and effectiveness and not enough people noticed his second half correction. Ventura went back to striking out guys at an alarming rate during the second half of the 2015 season due in large part to a spike in first pitch strikes. If he can harness some control and keep batters off the base paths his defense and Kauffman Stadium should help him finally harness that huge potential in 2016. 

The final player is Jason Hammel. Hammel is living in the shadow of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and now John Lackey but Hammel has all the makings of being one of the best fourth or fifth starters in the major leagues this season. He is a consistent 9.0 K/9 ratio and a below 4.00 ERA every single season with a ton of innings. With this Cubs offense behind him he may win 15 games, all he has to do is keep it close. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)